Bathing in the river. It's what we all do best :) And...normally I don't look that bald! River water makes your hair flat!
At Patara Elephant Farm
in Chiang Mai Thailand, Pat and his wife (the owners) warmly welcome you to their farm to play the role of elephant owner for a day. With one on one help from a trainer (who are local tribe members), you quickly learn all that goes into raising a healthy and happy elephant on a daily basis! It’s one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have as a tourist. The day begins by testing the waters. Is your elephant happy? Is (s)he healthy? Just hold up some bananas, call out his/her name and wait for a response. If you get ear flapping, trunk flailing, and horns-a-blazing, you’ve got yourself a best friend for the day! Go feed him/her!
Just getting to know each other! Kinda like a first date.
Katy looks a little more comfortable w/ it than I do! Check out those teeth (on the elephant)!
After a little bit of food, it’s time to ask the more intimate questions. Question 1:
Are your feet sweaty? In the elephant world, that’s a good thing. Pat said the only place an elephant sweats is through it’s toe nails. I wish I only had that problem! Just call me Pit Stains McGee :(
Question 2: What does your poop smell and look like? Actually elephant poop is a lot like horse poop. B/c they’re vegetarians, they tend to have a mild smelling poop and it tends to be very fibrous! That goes for humans as well. Maybe you all should think about becoming vegetarian too :) If you know what I mean :)
Just a little toenail sweat is considered to be healthy!
Does the book Everybody Poops come to mind here? Someone tell me you've read it or seen it before!
Mmmmm.... another vegetarian with a high fiber diet.
Ok, looks good so far. Your award for being healthy is a brush down w/ some leaves and a sponge bath.
An elephant back scratcher and dirt remover. The key to looking young is proper maintenance!
To the water!!
Grab em' by the ear. Just like the nuns use to do to me!
Oh…forgot to mention our tribal wear is authentic. The women of the Karen tribe (that’s actually the tribe that has the women w/ the long necks with all the gold rings around them) make them and we wear them b/c their sons’ (the trainers) wear them. This makes the elephants a little more confortable around us.
One last wash down! Check out the arch on our water bucket toss. Not bad, eh??
I take that back... one more rinse off for all of us!
After our bath, it’s back to base camp for another feeding! These guys eat 10 percent of their body weight a day! For me, that would be about 18 lbs of food a day. Wow!
That's right, it's a cow bell around that elephants neck. Sadly, it's to keep poachers from getting at the ivory.
Ok, eating is over. No need to wait for digestion. It’s ongoing! So let’s ride!
- “Just sit right on top of their head.”, they said.
About an hour later, we reached the waterfall! Time for lunch and a swim with friends.
- Hey, where did my elephant go? I swear I was just sitting on him.
- There he is!!
At the end of the day, Pat told us he matched us up w/ our elephants based on personality. Based on these pictures, I’d say we made cute couples!
- “Is this an elephant or a hairy rock?”
- Staying on the elephants in the water proved to be very difficult for Katy.
- Ok… I guess I had a little trouble too!
- But in the end… we came out on top. Well, kind of.
- Well, one of us did!
When Katy and I sign up for tourist attractions, we always have this worry (as I’m sure many of you do too) that our experience won’t feel authentic and that we’ll feel as if we were just part of the masses paying our money and passing through. Pat made sure this wasn’t the case! He was there everystep of the way sharing w/ us his visions of the future and speaking to us as if we were a major part of it. It was inspiring! He even put us on an email list to let us know when the next baby was to be born! He was a business man who really cared about his business! Way to go Pat!
- Lunch time!!
- And a little entertainment!!
- and table scraps for the beggers.
- I was almost a table scrap!!
After an authentic Thai lunch, we hopped on our elephants for the long trek home.
- All aboard for one last ride. BTW, Katy was a ninja in her previous life.
- Over the river and through the rice fields… I think that’s how the song goes over here.
- One last goodbye. What an incredible experience!
What a day! Btw, all of these pictures were taken by Pat’s camera people and included in the original price! Usually when you go out with a tourist group, they take a lot of pictures and then beg you to buy them at the end of the day. At the end of the day, Pat’s uncle dropped us off at our hostel and an hour later, Pat, himself, dropped off the two CD’s (over 700 pics and 100 video clips) at our hostel’s front desk! First Class!!